Building leadership, policy development, and community expertise and voice into the equity-focused, applied policy research of the Advocacy Commissions using Workgroups
In 2018 – 2020, the Advocacy Commission Chairs approved a staffing pilot within the Oregon Advocacy Commissions, following discussion at the Annual Joint Meetings of the Advocacy Commissions in 2018. As the OACs engaged in increasingly complex equity-focused applied policy research with data and policy partners, the Chairs identified Project Management as a key factor for organizing for organizing the various discussions between three necessary work groups to set the goals, conduct the research and analysis, and inform and guide the project with community input. In 2018, the OAC Chairs and the Oregon Advocacy Commissions Office added the needed Project Management expertise into its staff with specialized training, and established three workgroups as it prepared to conduct the first Mental Health and Latinos Report with partners OHA and DHS. The workgroups, described below, developed and approved the Mental Health and Latinos research project, assuring the outcomes and timeline, conducted and analyzed the qualitative and quantitative research and analysis, provided community voice and expertise, and together crafted the policy recommendations for the study. At the 2019 Joint Meeting of the Advocacy Commissions, the Commissions hosted a detailed discussion of the Applied Policy Research workgroup and project management model that they had piloted for the Mental Health and Latinos policy research project, and approved the OAC structure that will be used in the future to conduct their policy research work:
1) Project Management within the Oregon Advocacy Commission Office and
2) Advocacy Commission/Partner workgroups for applied policy research, consisting of:
• Leadership Group
• Policy Workgroup(s)
• Community Advisory Council(s)
Based on the OCHA Mental Health and Latinos research example: The Leadership Group consisted of the Advocacy Commission Chair, OCHA Chair Linda Castillo 2018 – 2020, and OCHA Chair Alberto Moreno 2016 - 2018, OCHA Commissioner Dr. Joseph Gallegos, OHA Director Patrick Allen, DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht, and then OHA Behavioral Health Director, Mike Morris. This group guided the alignment and coordination of the policy work, served as guiding sponsors of the work and outcomes, identified and coordinated staff support and opportunities for data and information sharing, and other partnership activities for the project. The group also identified the touch points in the policy arc over several years of when and to which policymaking or community groups the research and its outcomes would be most useful.
Based on the OCHA Mental Health and Latinos research example: The Policy Workgroup consisted of OCHA Commissioners, OHA and DHS staff, state legislators and their staff, and Oregon Advocacy Commissions Office staff. The Policy Workgroup conducted an environmental scan of mental health services in Oregon over a series of meetings, by inviting subject matter experts to present on their special area. They provided excellent content and served to raise awareness about the many state agencies, nonprofit and community service providers already engaged in this important work. Their charge included:
1) Identify elements of the larger Mental Health (MH) picture, which the MH and Latinos report may inform or incorporate in its integrated report.
2) Learn more about the other elements of the MH picture, and best practices, by sharing reports and materials that may be integrated or become appendices in the final MH and Latinos report.
3) Identify the policy areas, Legislative Concepts, and partner’s bills that will be incorporated into the recommendations of the final report.
4) Draft the integrated report, incorporating big picture, specific research, implications, and policy recommendations.
5) Work with the Community Advisory Council to review and finalize the MH and Latinos report.
6) Work with the Community Advisory Council to release the report and plan associated bill support.
7) Prepare presentations materials for legislative committees and other groups.
Community Advisory Council
Based on the OCHA MH and Latinos research example: The Community Advisory Council (CAC) consisted of culturally and linguistically appropriate mental health providers who work with Hispanic communities, public health educators, community members, and legislators. Many people who attended the 2018 Latino Health Equity Conference, which focused on Strengthening Latino Emotional and Mental Health, were invited to be members of the CAC, because of their expertise, experience and interest in mental health. The CAC grew over several months, as interested people not yet affiliated with the CAC, who heard about it through their networks, asked to join the meetings and were welcomed.
The Community Advisory Council: shared professional and client experience within the Hispanic community with the Policy Workgroup; conducted a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis of mental health providers and services in the community; provided feedback; made policy recommendations and developed legislative concepts to move to the Advocacy Commissions’ Policy Arc; helped the Workgroup better understand how the mental health system works; and the internal and external changes that are occurring and in the diversity work force pipeline.